Live blog: Regional Press Awards 2009

12.05pm: We’re live this afternoon from the Marriott Grosvenor Square in London for the 2009 Regional Press Awards. Winners will be posted here on this live blog and on Twitter as soon as they’re announced. The ceremony gets underway in about half an hour.

12.45pm: Chairman of the judges Peter Sands takes to the stage. He asks guests to turn their mobiles off. “If you’ve got a blackberry, you’re probably at the wrong event.”

12.46pm: Sands says it’s something of a miracle today’s awards are taking place. He says some stressed journalists told him they didn’t have time to put together entries. Some told him their company wouldn’t pay the entry fee. Sands’ accountant recently told him: “You support Newcastle United and you work in regional newspapers. How unlucky is that?”

12.50pm: Sands says the number of entries this year was slightly down, but the standard was as high as ever. “Despite the difficulties we face, the regional press is brimming with talent.” And like Newcastle United, the regional newspaper industry will bounce back, he says.

12.55pm: Food first – some sort of fishcake thing followed by a lump of lamb. Awards action in a bit – here’s the shortlist.

1.55pm: Nick Ferrari takes to the stage. Newspapers run through his family. But his two sons, 22 and 20, don’t want to become journalists. “While I feel relieved in a way, I also feel greatly saddened. It is truly remarkable what you people have been through since I last saw you 12 months ago. Scores of titles have closed, hundreds of people have lost their jobs… Good luck to you, and may we all be here in 12 months’ time.”

2pm: Ferrari’s glad to be here. His last gig was presenting the Local Authority Lighting Engineers Awards. “That was a tough gig.”

2.05pm: Ferrari’s favourite headlines in recent years:

“Something Went Wrong In Jet Crash, Says Expert”
“War Dims Hope For Peace”
“If Strike Isn’t Settled Quickly, It Could Last A While”
“New Bridge Held Up By Red Tape”
“Hospitals Are Sued By Seven Foot Doctors”

2.10pm: Here come the first set of awards. We’ve only got 27 to get through…

Young journalist of the year
Anna Roberts, Reading Evening Post
Anna ran stories over six months following a doorstep shooting, tracked down the victim in hiding and kept the story bubbling. A tenacious approach at newsgathering, the judges said.

Multimedia journalist of the year
Nicola Dowling, Manchester Evening News
“Great skill and tenacity in developing from a print reporter into a multimedia journalist.”

Specialist reporter of the year
Claire McNeilly, Belfast Telegraph

“A journalist who can tell a story with clarity and conviction.”

Designer of the year
Ian Bond, Hull Daily Mail

“Innovation, flair, technical ability and understanding of the needs of modern readers.”
They’re a noisy bunch. “Thank God they got something,” Ferrari says.

Front page of the year
The News, Portsmouth

“Brilliant, an original idea, executed with care.” A memorable front page based on a painting of Nelson at Trafalgar: “Pompey Expects”.

Sports photographer of the year (weekly)
Christopher Whiteoak, Aldershot News

“A portfolio of beautifully observed moments.”

Sports photographer of the year (Daily and Sunday)
Leah McLaren, Derby Evening Telegraph

“Clearly a photographer at ease with every sport.”

Photographer of the year (weekly)
Tim Bradley, Rochdale Observer and Heywood Advertiser

“In complete control of all situations.”

Photographer of the year (daily/Sunday)
Simon Hulme, Yorkshire Post

“Not only great photographic skill but a real news sense.”

Sports journalist of the year (weekly)
Jon Colman, The Cumberland News
– for the third year in a row
“An exceptional talent.”

Sports journalist of the year (daily/Sunday)
Jon Colman, News & Star
(again)

Business and finance journalist of the year
Winner: Sam Williams, Norwich Evening News

“Knows the patch, asks the right questions, comes up with great stories.”
Highly commended: Robin Johnson, Derby Evening Telegraph

Campaign of the year
Winner: “Tower Hamlets local history library”, East London Advertiser

“After taking on the local authorities by mobilising readers, played a crucial role in the democratic debate.”
Editor Malcolm Starbrook is in hospital recovering from an op. Get well soon.
Highly commended: “We Care”, Express & Echo, Exeter

Children’s Society Award for reporting on asylum and refugee issues
Winner: “All I want to do is help people”, Alison Campsie, The Herald

“Challenged readers’ ideas not just about asylum seekers, but about children as well.”
Highly commended: “Happiness is just feeling safe”, Catherine Jones, The Western Mail

3.25pm: Phew. Blog server fell over. We’re back. Here’s what you missed:

Supplement of the year
Weekend Gloucestershire Echo/Citizen.

“A clear winner in a very competitive category.”

Multimedia publisher of the year
Hull Daily Mail (@thisishull)

“Trail-blazer in the domain of new media.”
John Meehan: “I’m astounded that we’ve won this two years in a row but we do work really hard in the area of multimedia and multimedia integration. We make significant money from digital publishing. Regional media needs to believe in the potential of the profitability of multimedia opportunities.”
Commended: Henley Standard

Scoop of the year
“Sex film row rocks school”, Gloucestershire Echo

Columnist of the year
Winner: Erik Petersen, Nottingham Evening Post
He dedicates the award to everyone at East Midlands Trains, which never lets him down when it comes to things to moan about in the column. And to the Post, for recognising the importance of opinion – not something that can just be cut when times are hard.
Highly commended: Colin Drury, Halifax Evening Courier

Feature writer of the year (weekly)
Roger Lytollis, The Cumberland News
(for the second year running).

Feature writer of the year (daily/Sunday)
Lee Marlow, Leicester Mercury

Reporter of the year (weekly)
Peter Truman, Croydon Guardian

Reporter of the year (daily/Sunday)
Jon Austin, Basildon Echo
(for the second year running)

Magazine of the year
Winner: Cornwall Today

Highly commended: Cambridgeshire Journal

Newspaper of the year (weekly) – below 20,000 circulation
Winner: East London Advertiser
(for the second year running)
“[Editor] Malcolm Starbrook has revitalised the East London Advertiser. This is for Malcolm.”
Highly commended: Ham & High

Newspaper of the year (weekly) – above 20,000 circulation
Winner: South London Press

The judges said: “We wish we had a local paper like this. Something compelling on each page.”
Highly commended: Cumberland News

Newspaper of the year (daily/Sunday) – below 40,000 circulation
Winner: News & Star, Carlisle

“Regional journalism at its very best. Page after page of compelling reads.”
“I’d like to dedicate this award to Mr Greenslade. It’ll be a long time before we’re dead yet.”
Highly commended: The Evening Star, Ipswich

Newspaper of the year (daily/Sunday) – above 40,000 circulation
Winner: Press & Journal, Aberdeen

“Appears to be untarnished by the recession.”
Highly commended: Sunday Life

3.50pm: And that’s all for this year. Congratulations to all nominees, highly commendeds and winners. To the pub.

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